Ranking the SEC quarterbacks from best to 'most to prove'
Who is the best quarterback in the SEC entering 2014? Who is the biggest sleeper? Who do you think has most to prove this season? Let's rank every starting QB in the league (yes, some jobs are wide open) from No. 1 to No. 14.
No. 14: Justin Worley, Sr., Tennessee
Worley had better numbers than others higher on this ranking, but he’s going into his senior season and the page may be turned on him in Knoxville, with sophomore Joshua Dobbs in the race for the starting job in 2014. Whichever QB the Vols choose, that guy has as much to prove as anyone in the league. The good news? There are some weapons to work with, beginning with stud WR Marquez North.
Robinette wasn’t great as a freshman in 2013, and now he has to move forward in a new offensive system and without receiver Jordan Matthews.
No. 12: Brandon Allen, Jr., Arkansas
Here’s some good news for the Hogs: Allen can be a solid QB, but there’s a lot of work to do, beginning with completing more than 49.6 percent of his passes and finding some semblance of a vertical game (6.0 yards per attempt last season, tied for last in the nation among qualifying QBs).
Getty ImagesWesley Hitt
No. 11: Maxwell Smith, Jr., Kentucky
Smith showed some promise last season, throwing nine TDs to only one pick, but he was sacked 18 times and the Wildcats couldn’t gain any traction in the East (going 0-8). Kentucky needs to put more weapons around Smith, and until then, RB Jojo Kemp will be the workhorse.
Getty ImagesAndy Lyons
No. 10: Anthony Jennings, So., LSU
This could be Jennings or it could be freshman Brandon Harris, and either one of them could easily be better than 10th in the league. But that’s where they go for now until they prove they deserve a higher ranking. LSU will rely heavily on its running game, with freshman phenom Leonard Fournette leading the way.
Getty ImagesAl Messerschmidt
No. 9: Hutson Mason, Sr., Georgia
Mason takes over full-time for Aaron Murray and will be solid for Georgia, but the Bulldogs will lean on their strength, which is a ground game led by Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. If Mason can complete 60.9 percent of his passes, as he did last season, and limit the turnovers, the Dawgs will be fine in the East.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
No. 8: Kenny Hill, So., Texas A&M
This one is tough to rank because we don’t yet know who it will be. Hill gets the nod, only because he’s the returner, but freshman Kyle Allen could just as easily beat him out for the job. In Kevin Sumlin’s option, it’s hard to believe either guy would be lower than eighth in the league. Johnny Manziel’s replacement will probably end up better than that.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
No. 7: Jeff Driskel, Sr., Florida
Driskel has taken a lot of heat from Florida fans as part of the offensive problem in Gainesville, but this could end up being too low for him in 2014. Driskel completed 68.9 percent of his passes before breaking his leg against Tennessee in September and missing the year. Forget 2013 – with new OC Kurt Roper opening up the offense, Driskel’s senior season should be much different.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
No. 6: Maty Mauk, So., Missouri
Mauk performed very well as a freshman in 2013 while filling in for James Franklin. He tossed 11 TDs to only two picks and had an adjusted QBR of 82.0. He has the ability to make plays with his feet, and if he can complete passes at a higher clip (51.1 in 2013), he’ll be a very good QB for the Tigers.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY SportsMark Zerof
No. 5: Dylan Thompson, Sr., South Carolina
In his senior season in Columbia, Thompson is the guy to replace Connor Shaw. He completed 58.4 of his throws last season and had a 73.9 adjusted QBR. He gives the Gamecocks a solid option under center and should be among the league’s finer QBs in 2014.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
No. 4: Jacob Coker, Jr., Alabama
This might be high to put a guy who’s never played in the SEC and has thrown only 41 passes in the last two years. But given the lack of elite quarterbacks in the league and how FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, among others, have raved about Coker, this feels like an appropriate spot. Would anyone be surprised if Coker is the fourth-best QB in the SEC this year? No. Some might even call that a disappointment.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
No. 3: Bo Wallace, Sr., Ole Miss
Wallace was more than solid last season for Ole Miss, completing 64.8 percent for his passes for 3,346 yards and posting a 72.9 QBR. He needs more protection, as he was sacked 24 times last season. If the Rebs are going to win more than their eight games of a season ago, it will be because Wallace has the best season of his career as a senior.
No. 2: Dak Prescott, Jr., Mississippi State
Prescott is the primary reason some are picking Mississippi State as a dangerous team in the SEC West this year. Prescott had an 83 adjusted QBR in 2013 and could find his way onto some Heisman lists this fall with a jump in his numbers and more W’s for the Bulldogs.
Getty ImagesScott Halleran
No. 1: Nick Marshall, Sr., Auburn
Marshall is the class of the league now, coming off an SEC title and a national championship appearance. He should improve on his 59 percent completion of last year and become more of a dangerous passer, cementing his title as the SEC’s top QB.